Former extreme skier enjoying the retail environment of Aspen
June 7, 2014
Editor's note: "On the Job" is a series that profiles locals and the work they do. It runs every other week in The Aspen Times.
Bob Marley tunes waft from speakers inside Miller Sports as manager Ted Davenport speaks of his affinity for retail.
Davenport, 33, of Basalt, has been employed at the Spring Street ski-and-apparel shop since owner Bill Miller founded it last fall. With his faithful dog Lauti by his side, Davenport oversees sales, employees, inventory and more. Miller Sports is a sister store to Hamilton Sports on East Durant Avenue.
The former professional big-mountain skier even works on the small things to improve the store's aesthetics, pointing out that customers prefer to give their business to a place that looks and feels good.
"We're going for nice, tight, clean, simple, everything folded perfect — a store that people would want to shop in," Davenport said. "I like working in a ski-retail environment; I've been a skier since I was 3 years old. I was raised in it."
The Massachusetts native is a 10-year resident of the valley. He's the younger brother of professional skier Chris Davenport, who won the Extreme Skiing World Championships in 1996 and 2001 and has skied more than 50 Colorado 14ers as well as Mount Everest.
Ted Davenport competed in professional extreme-skiing events, as well, from 2004 to 2013. He retired following numerous injuries, but still skis every day during the winter season. He has not given up wing-suit base jumping.
"What's the thrill of that? It's literally flying, at 120 mph, down mountainsides," he explained.
Davenport juggled competitions with working in a longtime Aspen ski shop. He lists many broken bones and more than 10 surgeries. An accident in 2011 spelled the beginning of the end, he said.
"I broke both legs in the World Heli Challenge in New Zealand. I landed on a rock and was in a wheelchair for four months. Two years ago was my winter back, and that's when I said, 'OK, I probably cannot make a living at this.'"
Many customers know him as a ski champion. At the time he was competing in New Zealand in 2011, he was going for his third consecutive World Heli Challenge title.
"I've been involved in the ski industry in every form. When someone comes in and I'm selling them skis, they know I know what I'm talking about," Davenport said.
But he is modest about his professional accomplishments, and when dealing with customers, he doesn't go on about himself like many former athletes often will do.
"I try to always make it about the customer," he said of his selling style.
Given the great snowfall, the 2013-14 winter and spring ski season was a success for area ski shops and sales of winter apparel and gear, according to city of Aspen monthly reports on retail activity. Now Davenport faces the task of selling different types of apparel — shirts, shorts, bathing suits, light jackets — during the store's first summer season.
The store's kinship with Hamilton Sports makes his job easier, he said. If Miller Sports is slammed, Hamilton Sports can send employees over to help and vice versa. The two retailers also can swap and share merchandise.
"Both stores totally work together, which is super cool," he said.
Davenport has a wife, Amber, whom he married in early 2013, and a 7-month-old son.